Wheeled armored vehicles keep getting bigger

I’ve mentioned before my experience with South African Ratel infantry fighting vehicles, which were big and relatively tall.  This was an advantage in the southern African bush, because their commanders and gunners were able to see over the bush to locate enemy targets, whereas our foes in their Soviet-era tanks and APC’s were blinded by the vegetation, unable to see more than a few feet in front of them.

Nevertheless, by the standards of emerging modern IFV’s, the Ratel was still relatively small.  Courtesy of SNAFU, we find this photograph of two contenders in the Australian Army’s Land 400 IFV/APC component.  (Click the image for a larger view.)

From right to left, we have the ASLAV wheeled light armored vehicle and M1 Abrams tank (both currently in service with the Australian armed forces), followed by the Patria AMV and Boxer, both of which are finalists in the Land 400 competition.

Note the size of the latter, newer vehicles compared to their older predecessors.  It’s striking.  They’ll be much more visible to the enemy under many conditions – enough so that I’d be concerned about being inside them on a highly-contested battlefield.  I’d be feeling rather vulnerable!

Nevertheless, I suppose such growth in size is inevitable, given the requirements such vehicles will have to meet.  I note that the US Marine Corps is testing two wheeled APC’s, the SuperAV and the Terrex, as part of its Amphibious Combat Vehicle program;  and Israel has developed the Eitan APC.  All are of similar size to the Australian contenders.



  1. I agree, larger size is a consequence of newer design requirements, however I think it is going to be a drawback as well – anywhere that is not desert, with rivers, bridges, and steep hills will create problems for large vehicles; in Iraq there have been problems with bridges not rated for armor and urban areas where there wasn't enough height clearance for larger vehicles like MRAPs. I don't know if those limitations are being considered in this competition or not. Given that most use of Australian armored vehicles recently has NOT been in Australia, I hope they are considering other locations they may be needed and also how to get them there – airplanes and ships have size limits for what can fit as much as they have weight limits.

  2. The Europeans and the Germans in particular tried this until 1943. Losses in Russia were so horrific they took ALL of them out of action. They are poor "off road" performers and have very poor armor thickness Vs. tracked tanks.

  3. I want to know what they will do in heavily forested regions…I currently work closely with loggers, who tend to drive large, articulated machines designed to deal with trees. They are serious, serious obstacles when full grown. And no you can't just push them over or go around them. At least not in mature hardwood/jungle type forests.

  4. It all boils down to this. They're mobile, capable and usually effective, that's when they're not being turned into 'Spam Cans' by a cheap, shoulder fired anti-armour munition.
    Spam Cans.

  5. Us armor types can make these work just fine.

    The two overriding considerations are the sensors (how far can it see the foe) and the gun depression, because if I'm the TC of one of those, you will find me in hull defilade behind a handy ridge or gully. All the foe will see is my gun mantlet and sights.

    As for RPGs and such, good luck hitting me from any range greater than 100 meters – and good luck living through the following 5 seconds. Infantry in the desert/steppes/tundra landform are in big trouble – and in the jungle, my troopies are walking out in front.

  6. I'm not former or current military.

    That being said I heard that the first time the US brought over their Hummers over to Australia for some exercise that our bush tracks had to be widened to accommodate them. I guess that's OK whilst we're friends (Nations have no eternal friends or enemies).

    But what I am thinking – is this just like with the car manufacturers? They seem to keep making various models bigger each year so that a small car becomes a medium car. Lee Iocca former CEO of Ford & Chrysler said that at an AGM an investor got up and said "You've made the perfect car. Don't fuck it up by making it bigger" (The Ford Mustang). Of course they made it bigger and by all accounts it was not better.

  7. Unfortunately for the spammer above, I doubt much of Peter's readership resides in India.

    Anyway, as sensors get better and weapons get smarter, I have a feeling that vehicles will get larger. Doesn't matter if that makes the vehicle more visible and less able to take advantage of cover, because those won't be as advantageous as more armor and active protection systems.

  8. My beef is with the entire concept of the "Infantry Fighting Vehicle", which in my opinion is an utterly stupid concept from the word "GO".

    Firstly, the IFV is predicated on the idea that you're going to be cramming several widely disparate missions onto the same hull at the same damn time, missions which are rarely done at the same time and place on the battlefield. What this does is cripple your flexibility, because now instead of being able to direct your firepower to the ideal location from whence to deliver it, you've got to use that same hull to haul the troops to their drop-off point for them to do their jobs–And, the number of times where I've seen that be the same location? LOL…

    With the IFV, the platoon commander has Hobson's choice: He either takes his firepower up to where he needs to drop his infantry, risking it and rendering it ineffective on the objective, or he maintains his ideal support-by-fire location and has his infantry wear itself out by humping all the way to the objective, likely under fire, from the support-by-fire position. Or, he can split his forces and keep half his troops bound to the fire support vehicles, and risk the other half of his firepower up dropping the infantry at their assault positions.

    It is, frankly, nuts. We never should have gone down this road–The infantry fire support and carrier missions should never have been combined onto the same platform. The weight/mass restrictions predicated on trying to protect a crew compartment big enough to haul around an infantry squad, a support weapon like the Bushmaster, and the ammunition required for same…? Physically impossible under current technology. Which is why these damn things are ballooning up into the overweight, oversized masterpieces of defense budget-busters that they are.

    We badly need to go back to the idea of an infantry carrier that is just a troop carrier capable of local defense against small arms fire, no offensive capability past an MG, and then a specialized fire support vehicle like the Soviet BMPT Terminator that's built on a damn tank chassis, and is capable of going toe-to-toe in a real armored vehicle fight. The bitched-up personnel carriers we're building these days are not capable of doing what the commanders naturally do, which is assume that since they've got a turret and armor, they're tanks. Even the 'effing grunts can't get that crap through their heads, because all the training scenarios we run teach them that things like the damn Bradley can go headlong into armored combat and win. While that may be true so long as we're fighting Arabs and other such "warriors", the minute we take that attitude and equipment up against real professional soldiers armed with modern weapons, we're going to lose most of our already tiny number of infantrymen before they even dismount from their carriers.

    The IFV was a concept predicated on fighting on a nuclear/chemical contaminated battlefield, one that never materialized. It's about time we recognized that fact, and returned to sanity in this regard.

  9. Kona Commuter, I'm ex RAAF and when I was in a particular unit during the late 80's, we had bit to do with the Yanks here in Australia, particularly the Northern Territory and Cape York, and one or two places in between. Exercise's Pitch Black 87-1, 04 June-21 June 1987, Bronze Fisher, 07 July-17 July '87, Diamond Dollar, 08 Oct-03 Nov '87, Pitch Black 88, 24 June-22 July '88, Ex Kangaroo '89, 17 July-03 Sep '89, and Pitch Black 91, 27 July-04 September '91.
    There were a couple or more within those time frames also, but the ones mentioned were the major ones, with a few countries forces involved, not just the Aussies and the Yanks.
    My point is, not once did I know of any trouble with the HummVees relating to their ability to traverse terrain they were designed for, and as I was heavily involved in exercise communications, I have no knowledge of 'track widening', to do that would be the dumbest thing imaginable, for example.
    To find out where the HummVees had been, had traveled through, and where they lagered up, just get airborne and check out for unusually wider than normal tracks, couldn't be easier. What did impress us, well me particularly, was how they got mobile. Just turn the bakelite/plastic switch to 'ON', select Drive, handbrake off and GO, piece of piss!. I also had easy access to post Exercise reports, and there was no mention whatsoever of difficulties as described by you, Id be checking your sources of info if I was you mate.

  10. Kona Commuter, one last comment. Regarding your statement, 'Nations have no eternal friends or enemies', you, and anyone else having that train of thought, would be wise to remember the following.

    It is said of the Polish people that they 'Remember their friends and do not forget their enemies'. Poland and Australia are small nations, population wise.
    Australia has a proportion of people with Polish ancestry, who sought and found a better and safer place to come to after WW11, to settle, raise their families, and prosper, I know, as I worked alongside them as a teenager in the early 60's,and they were, and still are, bloody hard workers.
    They are people that any country would count itself lucky to have as citizens, as we do here in Australia.
    We also, remember our friends and don't forget our enemies.
    Australia and the United States of America go way back, to the early 1800's, long before WW1. We became friends back then, and despite what some dipshit Politicians have said over the years, we damn well still are!.
    We remember our friends, don't forget that. Mate.

  11. http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/12/annals-of-wars-we-dont-know-about-the-south-african-border-war-of-1966-1989/

    Article mentioned sa military had two great traditions, English from WWI and II, but also Boor. Where the Boors routinely held off 3x larger forces with an emphasis on mobility. And the sa forces as long as they kept to this doctrine where very successful in the border war.

    Peters review post on the new border war book made me curious on why the war ended, and this article answered it with some guesses that make sense.

  12. As I said, I'm not ex nor current ADF (sporting injury made me medically unfit). Just a 40+ year old Townsville born Army Brat.

    It was my father who told me that story and I believe it was the US Marines. From memory it was shoalwater bay but we're talking about a story I wasn't there to see. At the end of the day it's neither here nor there.

    In response to the US being our Allies I'm quite a fan of the US, every single American I've met has been a stand up guy. One time, whilst at Uni there was a heated argument at a lecture. The topic was about public health. The American born & raised student was having trouble understanding the difference between public health & individual health. She was getting very angry because her point was that *some* Mongolians can live long healthy lives on a basic diet, the lecturer was saying that *most* Mongolians don't. Both were right, the focus though was different. I love Americans ideal of the individual.

    That being said, pre-WWI the US war gammed war with the British Empire of which we (Australia) were a part. They had a good rationale behind it. Historically, empires don't hand over the mantle without a fight. Fortunately for all involved the British were tired of Empire and a peaceful transition to a friendly power was a great compromise.

    Further. Australia was left in the lurch in WWII when the UK, with their backs to the wall, wanted us to send our forces to protect Britain. Yeah, nah the Japanese are on our borders mate. The US didn't come to our aid as much as the front line for the conflict was Australia. So it worked out for us.

    AFAIK the Australian planners plan on ANZUS treaty protecting us. I think this is foolish. The British Empire didn't save us WWII and depending on the good graces of the US for our defence isn't smart. America serves her own interests as they should. We are friends now, and God willing will forever be. However, the future is uncertain. The Greens insulted President Trump on more than one occasion. Our politicians are retards, being rude to Indonesia, talking tough to China, ignoring Chinese veiled threats, being outright insulting to Russia, talking about sending troops to the Ukraine to oppose Russia (WT actual F???). I have no trouble believing some retard in gov starting something over nothing.

    Still, I hasten to add, I drive a forklift for a living. Reading about this stuff is for interest. I actually found this blog via Vox Day and the hosts articles about prepping I printed out years ago.

    Apologies for the rambling (i'm clearly not a writer)

  13. I assumed the growth in size was almost entirely driven by the rediculous levels of armor being applied to everything that moves. And the reason for that is the inability of the governments and public of the west to absorb casualties in a war. We do not seem to have the will to fight anymore, so we drive around in a moving fortress getting shot at, when getting out to engage the enemy is the way wars are won. But that would mean casualties, so more armor it is.

  14. Reason western gov's and public are no longer willing to absorb casualties in war? Simple, two-child families (boy, girl). 1 KIA = only son dead. That's different from when four, five or more children were common.

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